Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kwando River reaches all-time high

As with other rivers in the region, the Kwando River has been rising steadily as the 2009 flood season progresses. It recently exceeded the previous highest level on record (from 1969), but with last week's unseasonal rains has risen even higher.

The Kwando River flows in a south-easterly direction forming the boundary between Botswana and the Caprivi Strip in Namibia, but is diverted in a north-easterly direction when it encounters a slightly elevated faultline - and here it changes its name to the Linyanti. However, a small channel breaches the faultline at the point where the Kwando first meets it, and - unusually - flows out of the parent river to die in the arid Kalahari some 50 kilometres to the south-east. This of course, is the famous Savuti Channel, which dried up during the mid-1980s, and this is the reason why we are so excited about the high water levels in the Kwando River - the Savuti is flowing quite steadily once again, and has almost reached the western boundary of the Chobe National Park. If, or when, the water reaches the Savuti Marsh, it will re-create a wildlife paradise second to none in the region. Birdwatchers are advised to keep track of the progress of the water in the Savuti Channel, since the arrival of the water at the Marsh will undoubtedly bring with it good birding, and possibly a few surprises too.

The top end of the Savuti Channel where it leaves the Linyanti Swamp (Photo: P Hancock)

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